When does 18 plus 18 plus 18 equal three? When Jason Smith, chef/owner of the popular Raleigh restaurants 18 Seaboard and Cantina 18, opens a third restaurant. Harvest 18, which Smith opened on Saturday near Southpoint Mall, is his first venture in Durham.
The Raleigh native is no stranger to the Bull City, however. He once worked for James Beard Award-winning chef Ben Barker at the now-shuttered Magnolia Grill.
As his new restaurant’s name suggests, the focus is farm-to-fork. “More than 80 percent of our ingredients at Harvest are local,” Smith says. “That’s more than either of our other restaurants, and we’ve always been proud of our local producers.”
To put all that locavore goodness onto the plate, Smith has installed Mike Casey, who has worked at both of his other restaurants since 2006, as executive chef at Harvest 18. Casey has responded with a menu that explores the seasonal harvest in inventive ways.
Sunburst Farms green tomato and collard soup with Pamlico Sound blue crab, for instance, which you’ll find listed under the Small Plates heading alongside the likes of Heritage Farms pork belly lettuce wraps and Anson Mills rice-crusted Lockwood Folly oysters with Texas Pete aioli.
The dozen listings under the Large Plates headings are likewise peppered with the names of local producers: wood-fire grilled Sunburst trout with Anson Mills farro and Burch Farms mustard greens; Mills Family Farms meatloaf; Seven Springs “No Pen” bone-in pork loin with ginger creamed collards and roasted white sweet potatoes; and Sea Island red pea and North Cove mushroom cassoulet, to name a few.
You won’t have any trouble finding a local brew among the bar’s selection of draft and bottled beers, either. And if you’re craving a more spirited libation, the Harvest Mule (Troy & Sons moonshine, fresh lime and ginger beer) ought to provide the kick.
Greg Cox, the longtime N&O restaurant critic, also reports restaurant news. Tune in to hear his radio show on WPTF at 11 a.m. Saturdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.